Complex Litigation: Primary Jurisdiction

Vol. 23 Nat'l L.J. A16 (Sept. 25, 2000)

U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 482

5 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2013

Date Written: September 25, 2000


Commentary and analysis of the judicially-created doctrine of “primary jurisdiction” in class action litigation under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Defense attorneys typically raise the primary jurisdiction doctrine on a motion to dismiss a class action, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or a challenge to certification under Rule 23(b)(3), for a lack of superiority. In invoking the primary jurisdiction doctrine, defense attorneys argue that a federal or state administrative agency or regulatory body has superior jurisdiction and competency to resolve the complaints of aggrieved citizens. Many courts have noted that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is related to the exhaustion of remedies principle. This article surveys the standards by which federal and state courts evaluate the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, noting that these courts evaluate the doctrine under very similar standards. Defendants have invoked the doctrine with mixed success; and courts do not always defer to administrative or agency jurisdiction.

Keywords: Rule 23, federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, class actio litigation, primary jurisdiction, Rule 12(b)(6), deference to administrative agencies, defense to class actions, defense to class certification

Suggested Citation

Mullenix, Linda S., Complex Litigation: Primary Jurisdiction (September 25, 2000). Vol. 23 Nat'l L.J. A16 (Sept. 25, 2000); U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 482. Available at SSRN:

Linda S. Mullenix (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-1375 (Phone)

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